Boll weevil eradication on the Texas Plains will soon switch gears from active to maintenance mode, according to Patrick Burson, manager for the Southern High Plains-Caprock eradication zone.

“Weevil numbers in the Northern High Plains (NHP) and Southern High Plains-Caprock (SHPC) eradication zones are down 99% from 2002. When we started in 2001, we counted more than 200,000 weevils in trap catches in the SHPC zone. Weevil numbers declined to slightly more than 18,000 in 2002 and to only 145 in 2003,” says Burson. “We will soon ask Texas Agriculture Commissioner Susan Combs to change our official status from active to suppressed. In short, we will enter an eradication maintenance phase when that status is granted.”

There are 14 boll weevil eradication zones in Texas. Twelve of those zones, representing more than 5.7 million cotton acres, were active zones in 2003. The total cost of eradication in the SHPC zone was targeted at $105 million over four years. That cost has been lowered by $33 million, says Burson.

The pending change in eradication status will mean changes in how the Texas Boll Weevil Foundation operates suppressed zones.

Weevil trapping will continue, but there will be fewer traps and monitoring personnel. Quarantine rules for the movement of cotton equipment and raw cotton will also change. Gins and producers will have to make sure equipment and raw cotton entering suppressed zones are clean of weevils, Burson says.

“Meeting quarantine standards may not be easy, but it's in our best interest all the way around,” he says. Those with questions should contact their local ag department office.